IRL: Andretti Green Racing 2006 driver lineup announced

ANDRETTI GREEN RACING UNVEILS 2006 RACING LINEUP INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2005 -- Marco Andretti, the third-generation driver from one of racing's most-celebrated families, will compete in the 2006 IRL IndyCar® Series season with...

ANDRETTI GREEN RACING UNVEILS 2006 RACING LINEUP

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2005 -- Marco Andretti, the third-generation driver from one of racing's most-celebrated families, will compete in the 2006 IRL IndyCar® Series season with Andretti Green Racing, team officials announced.

Andretti, who will be a candidate for Bombardier Rookie of the Year, will drive the No. 26 ArcaEx Honda-powered Dallara and joins returning AGR drivers Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti and Bryan Herta.

"I'm excited about having the opportunity to drive the ArcaEx car for Andretti Green Racing," said Andretti, the 18-year-old son of AGR co-owner Michael Andretti and grandson of racing legend Mario Andretti. "Over the past couple of years, I've had the opportunity to spend time in the paddock with the ArcaEx team, as well as my three teammates, so that is a plus. I know that I have a lot of work ahead of me and a pretty steep learning curve, but I also know that I have one of the best teams in motorsports working with me."

The team also announced team co-owner Michael Andretti will return to racing to compete in the 90th Indianapolis 500 in May. Andretti will carry the No. 1 on his Vonage/Jim Beam Honda-powered Dallara. It will mark the first time since 1994 that a father and son have raced in the Indianapolis 500 (Mario and Michael Andretti).

"I'm really looking forward to returning to Indy in the Jim Beam/Vonage car as one of the drivers on this team, and I'm excited about the chance I'll have to run with Marco," the elder Andretti said. "As a driver, he has developed much quicker than I think anybody expected, and that is what really made this possible. I think I'll have as good a shot as I've ever had to win the Indianapolis 500, and I think I can also be a big help to Marco as he gets ready to make his first '500' start."

The team also announced that Franchitti's No. 27 car will carry sponsorship from longtime partners Klein Tools and Jim Beam. It also will field two cars in the 2006 Menards Infiniti Pro Series with drivers Jaime Camara and rookie Jonathan Klein in an association with Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

"Andretti Green is excited about the opportunity we have in front of us for the 2006 IRL (Menards Infiniti) Pro Series," said Kim Green, president of Andretti Green Racing. "We always welcome the opportunity to help develop young talent, and we're very excited about the prospect of working with both Jonathan and Jaime.

"The rules package and the prize money package that the league has created for the Pro Series provides real incentive for teams like Andretti Green to participate."

At the end of the 2005 season, Indy Racing League officials announced an increase in total prize money to $3 million for the Menards Infiniti Pro Series. They also announced that teams that field full-time entries in the series will earn a bonus test for their IndyCar Series program after every three races -- up to six extra test days for a two-car effort.

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The IRL IndyCar Series opens the 2006 season with the Toyota Indy 300 on March 26, 2006 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ABC Sports and the IMS Radio Network. The fifth season of Menards Infiniti Pro Series competition also opens on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

-irl

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